Tyler McKay has a plan…
And it doesn’t include a serious relationship anytime soon. Between his day job and being a partner at Flatiron 5 Fitness, he’s busy investing in the future. But Ty knows that going stag to his sister’s wedding will encourage the family matchmakers: he needs a fake date, fast, in self-defense. When the one woman who hates him walks into F5F, Ty knows he’s found the perfect candidate—that Shannyn doesn’t play by anyone’s rules just leaves Ty wanting more…
Shannyn Hawke is done with plans and dreams…
She had her whole life mapped out, but it all went wrong. Now, she’s taking care of number one and living in the moment, with no concern for the future. If her college crush wants to trade a fake wedding date for physical satisfaction, Shannyn is in. But just one night proves that Tyler is everything she believes a guy should be, plus he takes it as a challenge to change her mind about him. Shannyn never wants to have her heart broken again, but she’s falling hard and fast. Can she remember that it’s just for show? Or will Tyler convince Shannyn to take a chance on forever again?
“JUST ONE FAKE DATE is a story of family, friendships, business and love; of heart break and revelations; of acceptance and hope. The premise is engaging and inviting; the characters are stubborn, quirky, and energetic; the romance is spicy and moving.”—The Reading Cafe
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N.B. Just One Fake Date is NOT Simply Irresistible with a new cover and title. It’s a new book for Tyler, with a new heroine, different tropes and a new story. Some of the scenes with the partners are similar, but this is a different book and a new series starter. The rest of the books in the series have been updated as a result of this change. You may still be able to find print copies of the old book online.
The reviews for Simply Irresistible and Just One Fake Date have been merged at Goodreads, even though they are different books. Just One Fake Date was published on May 20, 2020 so reviews posted after that date will be for JOFD. I’ve tried to have this corrected, without success.
“Deborah Cooke decided to re-write the first book of the Flatiron Five Fitness with a new female lead for Tyler, Shannyn Hawke, with a whole new plot… I liked it a lot. I liked the chemistry between Shannyn and Tyler, I enjoyed watching Tyler fight for a real relationship with her, and the passion was great between the two… I loved how the story flowed and concluded. Overall, so much better start to a series that was awesome!”—Rendezvous with a Romance
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An excerpt from Just One Fake Date:
“Shannyn Hawke,” Tyler said immediately, much to Shannyn’s surprise. He stepped out from around the conference table to offer his hand, all smooth elegance and poise.
Worse, he was as sexy as ever—but more so. So much more so. He exuded power in a way Shannyn didn’t remember. And he was dressed a lot better. His suit was perfectly tailored, a shade of dark blue that was both conservative and sexy. She would have bet it was Italian and custom-made. He was trim, but then he was the partner of a fitness club, and he had bulked up since college. She remembered Tyler being more lanky, but now he was all man.
His hair was short and he was clean-shaven, neither of which were different than her recollection. That mouth. She still wanted to reach up and touch his lips with one fingertip, to feel them soften into a smile beneath her touch.
Apparently, some things never changed.
He’d always been handsome, but now he had polish. When he stood in front of her, she was reminded just how tall he was.
And those shoulders. She caught a whiff of cologne and her toes curled in her boots. It should be illegal for a man to look so good in real life.
Never mind to know it.
Never mind to have the ability to take command of a situation so fast.
Shannyn’s hand was engulfed in the warmth of Tyler’s before she could think twice. She felt a sizzle of awareness that shot through her, driving out the chill of the rain, reminding her that she was alive. Her heart fluttered and she felt like a star-struck fan-girl all over again.
The man had the greenest eyes and the steadiest gaze on the planet.
And he was looking at her.
Really looking, like he could read her thoughts and secrets. The feel of his hand around hers fed a little lick of desire heat deep inside her and Shannyn liked that just fine.
But he didn’t need to know about his effect on her.
A man like Tyler would just use that knowledge against her, to get what he wanted.
Shannyn withdrew her hand and held his gaze as coolly as she could.
“What brings you to Flatiron Five Fitness?” His voice was lower than she recalled, a little rougher, and that was another good change. His gaze flicked to her camera.
“The alumni magazine,” Shannyn said. “They must have done an interview with you successful grads. I’ve been assigned to take the photos.”
He nodded, then gestured. “Do you remember Kyle Stuyvesant?”
Kyle, too, looked bigger and broader, his hair various shades of blond and his blue eyes filled with mischief. She’d bet he got his hair colored professionally, but he was easy on the eyes. That smile had melted more than one set of reservations in a long-ago English Lit class, never mind the sound of him reading nineteenth-century poetry aloud.
Shannyn had much preferred Tyler’s recitations to Kyle’s. Kyle rushed through the verses to her thinking, but Tyler had paused in all the right places, as if savoring the words.
She felt warm just remembering that.
She’d wondered then what else he savored.
She still did.
Shannyn straightened and tried to pull her thoughts out of the gutter. This was work. So long as Tyler didn’t recite any poetry, and she kept her mind on the job, she should be able to keep this businesslike.
“Of course, I do.” She couldn’t resist the urge to tease Kyle a bit, especially as it meant she’d be averting her gaze from Tyler. “Even though I wasn’t one of the multitudes of women who moved in beauty like the night.”
Kyle, to her surprise, didn’t seem to have a comeback. He opened his mouth, shut it again, then ran a hand over the back of his neck, which was getting red. “Oh, yeah. English Lit 101. Those were the days.” His gaze flicked to Tyler with a kind of desperation and Shannyn was amused by his reaction. “Looks like you’ve got this covered, Ty,” he said, clearly intending to bolt. “I’ve got a lap swim session to supervise. Nice to see you again, Shannyn.”
Then Kyle was gone, as if fleeing the scene of the crime.
A bell rang at reception and the blonde woman went back to work, leaving Shannyn alone with Tyler. Was the air between them pulsing? Or was that her heartbeat going crazy? Either way, she felt more vital than she had in a long time. There was no going through the motions in this conversation.
Being alone with Tyler made her feel tingly.
And a little bit reckless.
But then, following impulse was supposed to be her new mantra.
“Congratulations,” Tyler murmured and she watched his lips curve into a smile. “There aren’t many women who spook Kyle, but you appear to have made the short list.” His eyes were twinkling. “But then, I remember you being fierce.”
Shannyn was surprised. “Fierce? Hardly.”
“Fierce,” Tyler insisted, his tone hinting that it wasn’t a flaw. She figured he was thinking of that drunken exchange, then he surprised her. “Passionate. Idealistic.” He shook his head and sighed in a way that shocked her. “Very cute.” His admiring little smile gave her palpitations.
But cute? Very cute? “I didn’t expect you to remember anything about me.”
Tyler’s eyes widened slightly. “Not even the last time we talked?”
“The only time we talked.” Shannyn hoped the heat rising over her skin didn’t mean she was blushing. She was talking quickly and tried to slow down. “I was drunk. I was sure you’d forget that. Or dismiss it. It was the schnapps talking.”
“Maybe the schnapps was letting you say what you really thought.”
Shannyn was definitely blushing now. Her face felt like it was on fire. “No one said it was the truth…”
“But it was your opinion and you delivered it with enthusiasm.” Tyler leaned back against the desk, watching her. His legs were insanely long, but his move put them more on a level. She couldn’t look away from his intense gaze. “That moment has haunted me,” he confessed and a few of Shannyn’s reservations melted even as she tried to fight her reaction.
He had to be messing with her.
“Because I wanted to defend myself and never had the chance.” His gaze was warm and Shannyn felt herself being charmed.
But then Kyle said Tyler was good at getting what he wanted from women.
The last thing she wanted to be was predictable.
“Oh, please,” she said with disdain and saw that her tone surprised him. “I have a listed number and there is the alumni association. It would have been easy enough to call me up and argue your case. Twelve years is a long time to not get around to it.”
He looked at her so hard that Shannyn wondered whether anyone ever told him off.
“It is,” he finally said, his tone crisp. He was offended, which was probably safer if it meant he’d turn off the charm. Tyler reached over to shut down his laptop, as if some decision had been made. He picked up his suit jacket, moving with an athletic grace that made Shannyn’s mouth go dry. What did he look like naked? One enquiring mind really wanted to know. “And there’s no time like the present. What would you like to see?”
“Everything,” Shannyn said in her surprise, but he took her words at face value.
“How long do you have to take the pictures?” He was polite now, shrugging into his jacket, but his gaze continued to simmer.
And he was still watching her, his gaze assessing.
Like he was trying to figure her out.
It was more than a little disconcerting to have his undivided attention, but Shannyn guessed it wouldn’t last.
“Until Saturday,” she said. “I just got the job twenty minutes ago, so it’s a bit of a rush. The hired photographer has apparently disappeared.”
“Happens, I guess.” He nodded and indicated the door. “Tour?”
“You don’t have to show me around.”
Tyler’s gaze clung to hers in a very satisfying way and his voice dropped even lower. “Maybe I want to make the most of opportunity. It would just be wrong to let you leave without me even trying to prove to you that I’m one of the good guys.”
Why did he care what she thought?
Tyler lifted a brow when she didn’t speak. “Unless you’d prefer otherwise. I could ask Kyle.”
“Why would I prefer otherwise?”
“The words ‘smug asshole’ come to mind.”
“You forgot entitled.”
Shannyn earned a hot look for that.
“I didn’t forget,” Tyler said, biting off the words. “I’ll never forget.”
He was insulted. Well, it had been an insulting thing to say to someone but she’d never imagined he would pay attention.
Let alone remember for twelve years.
“And it pisses you off.”
The question obviously surprised him. “Shouldn’t it?”
“I don’t know why it would. We were just classmates in a huge survey class.”
“It did and it does.” He obviously noticed her skepticism and his voice rose a little. “Why wouldn’t I want to defend myself?”
“Why would you care?” Shannyn replied.
“Trust me. I do.” He headed for the door with purpose. “We can start with the rock wall…”
“A tour of your empire is not going to change my mind about anything,” she said before she could stop herself.
Tyler froze, then pivoted, his gaze locking with hers again. His eyes blazed in a way that thrilled her to her toes. “Then what will?”
Oh, that quiet question was an invitation to trouble.
A fake date, even to a wedding, isn’t that complicated and negotiation is in your skill set.
Shannyn recalled Kyle’s words, the ones that she’d overheard, and the proverbial light went on. What was it like to be with Tyler? She’d always been curious. Her new philosophy was to live in the moment and this was the perfect opportunity to find out.
No strings attached.
It was crazy.
It was impulsive.
But once she had the idea, she couldn’t ignore it.
Shannyn was going to tickle the dragon’s belly and she knew she had to look like she didn’t care if he breathed fire. “We could make a deal,” she said, carefully putting her camera away. She used the time to consider changing her mind, but couldn’t think of a single good reason to do so. When she looked up, Tyler was motionless, his eyes bright with interest.
Shannyn took a step, closing the distance between them, then gave his tie a playful tug. She dared to look up and meet his gaze. Pure fire. “Because I’ve always wondered what I was missing.”
“How so?” Tyler’s voice turned silky, and he was a thousand times more intense than he’d been before.
“One hundred and ninety-eight women in that class, and I was the only one neither of you hit on.”
He was visibly surprised. “Not Kyle?”
“Not Kyle. Not you. Did I look like I had a communicable disease or something?”
He frowned and shook his head. “No. You were serious.”
“That’s a crime?”
“You were looking for more than a hook-up,” Tyler explained, pushing a hand through his hair. “You wanted to fall in love. I could see that. I could hear it when you read the poetry aloud in class. I respected that, but I wasn’t on the same proverbial page. I was ambitious.”
“Somehow I doubt you got over that.”
“I haven’t.” He shook his head and smiled just a little, the sight making her heart squeeze tight. His eyes twinkled as his voice softened, as if they were exchanging confidences. “But if some asshole was going to break your heart, it wasn’t going to be me.”
It was a nice thought, a protective impulse, either a hint that she had called it wrong or an attempt to say what she most wanted to hear.
Shannyn didn’t care.
Because either way, it was the perfect opening.
She reached up to trace the line of Tyler’s mouth with her fingertip, surrendering to that ancient temptation. It felt just as good as she’d expected. Tyler’s lips were firm and warm, and his gaze sizzled. He didn’t move but she could feel the tension emanating from him, and was awed by his patience and control.
She wanted to shatter his facade and let him loose.
She wanted him to want her so badly that he took her hard and fast, against a wall or on this desk.
She suspected that all she had to do was ask.
Shannyn stretched up, almost touching her lips to his ear. She closed her eyes, smelling soap and clean, sexy man along with that delicious cologne. “I’ll trade you,” she whispered, then brushed her lips across his ear lobe. She felt Tyler shiver and that made her feel powerful. She saw his eyes narrow when he pulled back slightly to look at her.
He was so close. “Trade what?” he murmured.
“Sex, right now, in exchange for one wedding date, at a specified future date.”
There. She’d said it.
“Are you kidding me?”
His gaze was searching. “I don’t think people change very much, Shannyn. I still can’t give you what you want.”
Her reservations melted a little more that he would be protective of her—even though this was just about sensation. “I could argue that. I think you could give me exactly what I want.” She ran a hand across his chest and felt him catch his breath. His dress shirt was crisp and smooth, and he wore a tight white undershirt beneath it. Under that was all rock hard chest. She flattened her hand and ran it across him. “Because I’ve changed. I’m all about living in the moment now.”
“Why?” Tyler looked as if she was a riddle he wanted to solve.
Shannyn continued, ignoring his question. “I’ve learned to like things simple. I prefer clear boundaries and simple transactions. Sex for a fake date sounds just about right to me.”
“Even with a smug entitled asshole?” He smiled a little again, the sight finishing her.
“Maybe especially with one. It’s time to find out what I’m missing.”
His eyes lit. “I reserve the right to try to change your mind.”
Shannyn smiled. “I don’t think you will.”
“Don’t underestimate me.”
“That’s usually my warning.” They smiled at each other for half of forever and it felt to Shannyn as if there was no air left in the room.
“Do we have a deal?” she managed to ask finally.
“Yes.” Tyler moved decisively, clearly intent on seizing the moment. “Yes.” He caught Shannyn’s nape in one strong hand, pulled her closer and looked into her eyes for a moment. When she held his gaze steadily, he bent to capture her lips beneath his own.
It was a good kiss, both possessive and persuasive. Unhurried and thorough. It wasn’t just poetry he savored. It was a kiss that meant business, a kiss that was unequivocal, and a kiss that convinced Shannyn that she’d made exactly the right choice.
An excerpt from Just One Fake Date
Copyright ©2020 Deborah A. Cooke
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